Mortgage 101

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved?

By Lauren Caggiano on January, 30 2020
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Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based copywriter and editor with a nerdy passion for AP Style. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, thrift shopping, fitness and travel. Learn more on her website:

In the age of Amazon Prime and streaming services, we’re used to having our wishes granted within a matter of minutes or days. It seems almost like magic. But when it comes to getting a mortgage, it’s not a matter of instant gratification — and for good reason. 

So how long does it take to get a mortgage? Let’s break it down for a minute.

The mortgage process has many steps, including getting pre-approved, getting the home appraised, and getting the actual loan. In a normal market, you can expect this process to take about 30 days on average (Ruoff holds an average of 17 days!). However, during busier months it can take up to 60 days, depending on the lender. Be aware that if you as the applicant have any issues like a low credit score, previous foreclosure, or overwhelming debt, it could prove to be more time consuming and involved.

Respond in a Timely Manner

Know that when your loan is in the underwriting phase, your job is to respond in a timely manner to document requests and follow-up questions. Do not take any probing personally — it’s designed to ensure that you’re a good candidate for a loan. Fortunately, some lenders allow you to upload or email some of these documents. Ruoff, for instance, has our Loan Butler app which provides a secure method of delivering your documents without waiting for snail mail. 

Have All Your Paperwork Ready

There are things you can do on your end to speed up the course of action. For one, make sure to prepare your important financial documentation to submit to your lender. Your lender will specify the necessary paperwork, but in general you’ll need to have the following on hand:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Most recent 2 months of bank statements
  • Most recent 30 days of pay stubs
  • Most recent 2 years of W-2s
  • Most recent 2 years of federal tax returns

Don't Make Any Big Financial Decisions 

Your lender will also pull a credit report. This data will provide them with a very clear picture of your candidacy for a loan. This will be spelled out in a preapproval letter, which is valid for about 60 to 90 days. During this time, it is important not to make any changes to your credit score or financial situation. Things like making big purchases (like a car or computer) will change your score (and not for the better) which will mean changes to your pre-approval status. Your lender will have to rerun all the numbers over again, which will cause a delay.

Get Pre-Approved Sooner Than Later

There’s no predetermined length of time it takes to get a mortgage per se. A number of factors enter the equation, including your financial health, having all your financial documents in order, and timing. Bottom line: If you’re thinking of buying a home in the near future, the sooner you start the process the sooner you can address any roadblocks.

When in doubt, your loan officer will be available to help you transition through the process to getting your home sweet home. If you have any questions about gathering documentation, shoot them an email or give them a call. They’ll be happy to share their knowledge and expertise with you.